Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Processing/manufacturing

The transformation of raw ingredients by physical or chemical means into food is a process that adds economic value to agricultural products and can potentially deliver other benefits by making products that are, for example, safer, easier to prepare, able to be stored throughout the seasons and transported across long distances. However, processing and manufacturing also uses significant amounts of energy and nonrenewable resources and is thus a source of GHG emissions and resource depletion. It is also a focal point of food waste issues: while processing can reduce perishability, nearly as much food is wasted during the processing stage as in the postharvest stage. Furthermore much of the sugar, salt and fats in food products is added and important nutrients and fibre removed, during the processing stage, meaning that processed food consumption is now a major contributor to obesity and associated non communicable diseases.

6 October 2020

This report from the non-profit Good Food Institute reviews the current status of fermentation technologies in the alternative protein industry. It covers traditional fermentation (e.g. tempeh, cheese, yoghurt), biomass fermentation (where microbial biomass is used as an ingredient, e.g. the filamentous fungi in Quorn) and precision fermentation (where a specific component is extracted from the biomass, e.g. Perfect Day’s dairy proteins and Impossible Foods’ heme protein).

14 July 2020

This article by FoodPrint discusses the tension between the purported environmental benefits of kelp farming and consumers’ lack of familiarity with kelp as a food, and describes “regenerative” kelp farming systems that also produce oysters, clams and mussels. It sets out several ways in which kelp can be used, including in foods such as pesto or lasagne, as well as other uses such as bioplastics, fertiliser, biofuel and animal feed.

9 June 2020

This book explores microbiological and biotechnological advances in food production, covering topics such as food safety, fermentation for preservation, sustainable production of seafood, food additives and bioprocesses to make agri-food wastes safe.

20 May 2020

According to this article in the Guardian, slaughterhouses in several countries are being badly affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, with the US being particularly affected. The factors behind the outbreaks are thought to include crowded working conditions, a workforce who often live in shared houses, people working despite being ill because of economic insecurity, and the slaughterhouses not being shut down during the pandemic.

12 May 2020

This book presents recent developments, trends and challenges in turning food waste into products such as biofuel, enzymes, biopolymers and animal feed. 

16 March 2020

This report from the Dutch non-profit Access to Nutrition Foundation assesses the efforts of India’s 16 largest food and beverage manufacturers to contribute to improved nutrition. It finds that current industry efforts, while growing, are not enough to meet India’s current nutritional challenges. 16% of the 1456 products assessed met criteria for being healthy, and few companies are tackling undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight across all of their business areas.

3 March 2020

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses three synthetic (or “molecular”) alcoholic drinks produced by US startup Endless West: wine, whiskey and sake. The drinks are produced by mixing plain alcohol (from corn) with natural flavourings (e.g. from plants or yeasts) rather than traditional distillation methods (e.g. fermenting grapes to make wine). 

3 March 2020

This report by Hong Kong media platform Green Queen gives an overview of alternative protein startups in Asia, in the categories of cultivated protein (e.g. laboratory-grown meat), modern processed plant-based products, and whole-food alternatives (such as jackfruit or lion’s mane mushrooms, which are sometimes used to mimic the texture of meat despite not having the same protein content). The authors argue that Asia’s alternative protein industry is likely to overtake US and European brands because of demand from Asia’s growing middle class, relatively low production costs and products that are tailored to local tastes.

18 February 2020

This article in the Guardian, by food writer Bee Wilson, author of The Way We Eat Now, describes the debate around so-called ultra-processed foods. Wilson describes the classification system for processed foods developed by researcher Carlos Monteiro and the research being done on the health impacts of ultra-processed foods.

3 February 2020

This podcast from global food community Food Matters Live discusses the effect that veganism has recently had on the food industry, how plant-based food and drink is likely to develop throughout 2020, and how the media and food companies talk about plant-based foods.

13 January 2020

This review paper argues that obesity and mortality in the United States could be reduced by limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed foods and meats, because of the tendency of processed foods to encourage people to eat more food (based on trials in people), and the inflammatory effect of emulsifiers such as carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80 (based on mouse and in vitro studies, not studies in people).

7 January 2020

This book explores how the design of new food products can contribute to healthy diets and discusses the role of the food industry and government in shaping health policies.

19 November 2019

This book looks at how the food industry and the environment interact, describes how the industry has developed over the past decade, and sets out suggestions to improve the food industry’s future environmental performance.

29 October 2019

This report from international sustainability consultancy Quantis provides advice to companies in the food supply chain on how to transform the food system to become more sustainable.

9 October 2019

This book presents case studies and guidance on extracting high-value compounds from waste and by-products from foods such as dairy, meat, sweet potato, cereals and olive oil.

2 October 2019

Five cellular agriculture startups have launched a new organisation, The Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation (AMPS Innovation). The coalition aims to work with regulators in the United States as they develop regulations for cellular agriculture products, as well as raise wider awareness of the industry.

18 September 2019

This briefing paper from the UK’s Food Research Collaboration argues that accepting United States food safety and animal welfare standards as part of a post-Brexit trade deal would imply “significant risks to public health and a radical decline in food quality standards which would be unprecedented and unacceptable in the UK”. 

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